If you’re seeking a destination that combines pristine beaches, warm hospitality, and a calendar brimming with exciting events, Fort Walton Beach is the perfect choice. In Fort Walton Beach, visitors will find a range of fun events throughout the year to cater to any interests. Whether you are celebrating the holidays, getting out on the water or enjoying local art and culture, there is something for everyone. Our events held throughout the year offer a wide range of experiences that connect visitors with the local culture and community in a way only the Emerald Coast can do. Check out these Fort Walton Beach annual events and mark your calendar for your next visit!


Fort Walton Beach lets the good times roll with a Mardi Gras celebration every year in the heart of downtown. A lively parade winds down Eglin Parkway, with colorful floats tossing out beads and treats, as well as an official Mardi Gras Krewe leading the festivities. The party continues with a block party and live music along Ferry Road throughout the afternoon. Come down early to grab a spot for this free, family-friendly event.


Enjoy the sea breeze and kick off a great spring season with two days of kite flying fun on the beach! The annual Spring Kite Festival in Fort Walton Beach is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the simple joy of flying a kite, with free lessons, stunt kite exhibitions and giant show kites flying high over the beach. This free event is fun for all ages and takes place at the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk the first weekend of April.

Celebrate local Native American heritage in late April at the Musical Echoes Native American Flute Festival. This two-day event includes traditional dancing, live music, local art vendors and a flute maker competition. All events will take place at Fort Walton Beach Landing Park and admission is free for all ages, with donations appreciated.


Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival kicks off in late May with a swashbuckling takeover of Fort Walton Beach. Over the course of a weekend, acrew of pirates invades, with full-scale exciting pirate battle reenactments taking place at Fort Walton Beach Landing. After the battle is won and celebrated with a fireworks display, a Torchlight Parade moves down Eglin Parkway to distribute the pirate loot to the crowds. This fun and family-friendly event is an annual crowd-pleaser and should not be missed!


The whole Emerald Coast is alive with patriotism and fireworks displays around the 4th of July, where Independence Day celebrations abound in Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding communities. Enjoy food and live entertainment at Fort Walton Beach Landing on July 4th, topped off with an incredible fireworks display. For a quieter experience, head to Okaloosa Boardwalk or the beach. With many other communities like Destin offering fireworks displays on the same night, you may be able to see a panoramic view. For a bonus show on July 3rd, head to Destin Commons, where the Star-Spangled Food Truck Festival offers a variety of local food, as well as live music and dancing before the fireworks display at dusk.


Visitors in mid-August will enjoy the excitement of Boat Week and the Emerald Coast Poker Run. This boating celebration draws marine craft enthusiasts from all over to showcase their boats and participate in fun events. The week culminates with the Poker Run, which is a timed event where boaters maneuver around the bay to collect a playing card at 5-7 stops, in the hopes of putting together a winning poker hand. After the run, boaters will play their hand at the Poker Run party for a chance at grand prizes. Spectators can watch the event from the shore or buy a ticket to the Poker Run party, which also includes food and entertainment, blackjack and roulette games and a silent auction. Proceeds from the Poker Run benefit local charities and youth organizations.


In mid-September, family fun awaits at the Northwest Florida Fair! This classic fun fair includes amusement rides, midway games, a petting zoo, fair food and an art show. Admission is $5 and free for kids under 10 years old (amusement rides ticketed separately). This event is open for a week and includes free parking, making it a great option for visitors to stop in for some carnival fun.


 Put on your lederhosen to celebrate Oktoberfest in Fort Walton Beach. Held at Fort Walton Elks Lodge, this party has the classic Bavarian influence with a Florida flavor. Enjoy great beer and food, with live music and games all evening. Tickets are $20 and children under 12 get in for free.

The month of October also brings the Destin Fishing Rodeo. This 31-day event includes a fishing competition with daily weigh-in, a Destin Rodeo 5K Run, the Destin Seafood Festival and more! Anglers of all ages are welcome to compete in the rodeo on any type of watercraft, and spectators are encouraged to attend the daily weigh-ins, where anglers will show their daily catch.


The holiday season in Fort Walton Beach offers many events from mid-November through the end of the year. The Christmas Parade in Fort Walton Beach is an annual favorite in early December, with cheerful floats, marching bands and Santa Claus winding down Eglin Parkway. Another great nearby event is the Destin Holiday Boat Parade, where festively decorated boats cruise the harbor and a fireworks display lights up the night. Stop by the Mistletoe Market earlier in the day to pick up gifts and try festive samples.

Where to Stay in Fort Walton Beach

Legacy Vacations offers over 70 Fort Walton Beach vacation rentals, with Gulf front condos in 16 different resort complexes. Our beautiful Fort Walton Beach rentals allow you and your family to immerse yourself in the distinctively southern coastal lifestyle each time you visit. You’ll find fully equipped kitchens, comfortable living spaces, and other amenities like balconies, direct beach access, beautifully landscaped pool areas, fitness centers, and more.

Book a vacation rental with Legacy Vacations today and experience the charm of the Emerald Coast! We can’t wait to host you in one of our Fort Walton Beach accommodations.


Celebrating Thanksgiving in Fort Walton Beach, Florida offers a delightful alternative to the traditional festivities at home. Imagine enjoying the holiday long weekend with your family in this laid-back beach town, soaking up the sun’s warmth with the sound of gentle waves in the background. 

Late November in Fort Walton Beach is a perfect time to escape the winter chill. Pleasant temperatures range from 65°F to 75°F, making it a very comfortable time of year for outdoor activities. It is a popular time to visit, but less crowded than peak summer season, allowing for a more relaxed and peaceful visit. 

Thanksgiving Dinner

For a casual beachside Thanksgiving dinner, go to The Crab Trap in Fort Walton Beach. This breezy waterfront restaurant offers a traditional Thanksgiving holiday menu as well as plenty of non-traditional seafood options. Another great option close to Okaloosa boardwalk is Angler’s Beachside Bar & Grill, a laid-back beachfront seafood restaurant.

On the bay side of Okaloosa Island, The Gulf will be offering both traditional and Cajun-style Thanksgiving menu items. This stylish restaurant has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy the bayfront scenery, but reservations are required, so plan ahead!

For a traditional Thanksgiving feast, head to Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village, where visitors can choose between brunch or a special 3-course holiday meal. Reservations are required.

Things to Do

Start your Thanksgiving Day off with a fun run at the 30A10K in Rosemary Beach or the Pensacola Beach Turkey Trot. Both races are located an hour’s drive from Fort Walton Beach. For those who are in town the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Sandestin Turkey Trot 5K is a nearby option for a fun morning activity the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, sports fans may enjoy the Emerald Coast Classic tournament. Eight NCAA men’s basketball teams will compete in a two day tournament held at the Northwest Florida State College Arena in nearby Niceville.

Start your Black Friday off by heading to the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk to shop for beachy souvenirs or outdoor gear. Grab a bite at one of the waterfront restaurants, then head out onto the fishing pier to watch local wildlife and anglers while enjoying the ocean breeze.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, kick off the holiday season in Seaside, Florida with the Turn on the Town event. This is a fun way to jumpstart your holiday cheer with a tree lighting, photos with Santa, special performances and more.

Where to Stay

Staying in a vacation rental in Fort Walton Beach provides a number of benefits for you and your loved ones. Vacation rental units allow you to live like a local, while still being conveniently located close to attractions and the beach. Our units offer more space and privacy than you would find in a hotel, making them perfect to share with family or other couples/friends. Our fully equipped kitchens mean you can cook your Thanksgiving meal at home, or at least prepare breakfasts or lunches so that every meal doesn’t have to be at a restaurant. And amenities like private balconies, large pools and beach services can really elevate your vacation. A spacious and fully-equipped vacation rental is the perfect place to gather with your loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving!

For your Thanksgiving getaway, check out Island Princess, a three-bedroom condo rental with a private ocean view balcony. This large unit is ideal for 1-2 families, and offers expansive views of the Gulf, as well as a heated pool and direct beach access. For smaller groups, cozy Island Surf offers a private balcony where you can view dolphins, with the beach only steps away. This unit is located in a quiet, family-friendly beachfront complex close to the attractions of Okaloosa Island. If you are looking for stunning views while eating Thanksgiving dinner, check out the minimalist ambiance at Emerald Towers or the extra large balcony at Pelican Isle Penthouse.

Whether you’re lounging on the beach, participating in holiday events, or savoring a delicious Thanksgiving meal, Fort Walton Beach provides a memorable holiday experience. Consider booking a vacation rental for added comfort, space, and convenience, and make this Thanksgiving one to remember!

As summer draws to a close, there is no better way to bid farewell to the season than by spending Labor Day weekend in beautiful Fort Walton Beach on Okaloosa Island. Nestled along Florida’s pristine Emerald Coast, this charming coastal town is the perfect place to enjoy the white sand, turquoise waters and laid-back culture the area is known for. 

Since it is the last holiday of summer, Labor Day weekend tends to bring crowds to Fort Walton Beach, so visitors should expect increased traffic and longer lines at popular attractions. However, with plenty of coastline to explore and lots of activities, it’s not difficult to find a quiet spot.

Labor Day weekend in Fort Walton Beach is typically hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 85 – 90°(F) during the day. Visitors should be prepared to stay hydrated and protect themselves from the sun. While there is always a chance of rain, September is typically one of the drier months in Fort Walton Beach, so visitors can expect plenty of sunshine over the Labor Day weekend. Throughout September, the summer heat begins to subside and crowds will thin out as well, making it an excellent reason to extend your vacation. 

Things to Do in Fort Walton Beach Over Labor Day


Visit the Okaloosa Boardwalk

This beachside collection of shops and restaurants is a lively place where you can find fresh local seafood and any beach gear you need. The Boardwalk also hosts weekly events including pirate shows, outdoor movies and live music. The nearby Okaloosa Pier is an excellent place to go fishing or spot local marine life. Over Labor Day weekend, there will be a fireworks show starting at 9pm on Sunday, with the best views from the beach in front of the Boardwalk.

Explore downtown Fort Walton Beach

Over Labor Day weekend, catch some free outdoor live music at Fort Walton Beach Landing on September 1 from 6-8pm. Enjoy an evening of strolling along downtown Fort Walton Beach with the Art Walk on September 2. This event features beautiful handmade crafts and art from local artisans, with specials offered by area restaurants and shops along the route. 

Beach Day

The stunning emerald waters and white sand of Fort Walton Beach is calling you! If you want to be in the heart of the action, the beach in front of the Boardwalk is lively and close to restaurants and shops. For a more serene atmosphere, head to John Beasley Park, a laid-back stretch of sand with pavilions, parking and restroom facilities. For a break from the crowds, drive to rustic Princess Beach, where the lack of amenities and long walk from the road tend to make it less popular, but still well worth a visit!

Enjoy Water Sports

The clear, warm Gulf is Mexico water is irresistible to fans of water sports. Fort Walton Beach is an ideal place for beginners to learn how to surf on consistent waves. To get a different perspective of the area, give parasailing a try. Visitors of all ages will enjoy parasailing for a thrilling experience with spectacular views, and adrenaline seekers will love zipping through the emerald waves on jet skis.

Boat, Paddle or Float

Rent a pontoon boat, kayak or paddleboard from Island Watersports to enjoy the water at a slower pace. Head over to Crab Island to join the floating party with hundreds of paddlers and boaters. This shallow sandbar is only accessible by water and is a popular summer hangout for locals and visitors alike.

Go Fishing

Fort Walton Beach is known for excellent fishing and there are no shortage of options to cast a line. The best pier fishing is found on Okaloosa Pier, where anglers can catch king mackerel and black fin tuna. Deep-sea and in-shore fishing is popular as well, with several expert charter companies offering trips to find red snapper, amberjack and more.

Encounter Wild Dolphins

Embark on a thrilling adventure to see dolphins in their natural habitat in Fort Walton Beach. From large glass-bottomed boats to up-close viewing from a catamaran, there are plenty of dolphin tour options to delight everyone in your group.

See Local Marine Life

Pay a visit to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park to see marine animals from the Gulf of Mexico, including dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays and more. This family-friendly facility offers animal encounters through touch tanks and snorkeling, as well as entertaining dolphin shows.

Visiting Fort Walton Beach over Labor Day weekend promises an unforgettable experience. With gorgeous beaches, plenty of water fun, and a lively atmosphere, a trip to Fort Walton Beach is great way to close out the summer. Pack your bags, book your vacation rental and make the most of your Labor Day weekend in Fort Walton Beach!